SOUTH JAMAICA, N.Y. - In an intense battle between two top New York powerhouse programs, there was much anticipation as to which squad would pull out the victory.
With no room for error, the senior teams of both the NY Panthers (Srs.) and New Heights (Srs.) clashed on the hardwood of the gymnasium at Intermediate School 8 as part of the iS8/Nike Spring High School Classic.
Though the talent and skill levels were matched, the Panthers edged New Heights, 79-71.
New Heights' Monmouth-bound Josh James (Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.) '13), who scored 14 points in the first quarter en route to a game-high 30 points, dominated the early part of the warm-up phase, posting points on the scoreboard with deuces and treys from the outset. As a result, James led his squad to as much as an eight-point lead, 25-17.
Still, not wanting to let its chances of advancing in the one-and-done playoffs slip away so easily, the Panthers, led by the hard work of Travis Charles (Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) '13), slowly chipped down the deficit to tie the contest at 33.
A two-of-two performance at the free throw line by Jarrel Marshall (Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) '13), gave the Panthers a two-point advantage. New Heights knotted the game at 35 by halftime.
By the third quarter, James and company sprang back into the same action that catapulted them ahead in the beginning of the game. With another 3-pointer by James, New Heights grabbed a five-point advantage, 45-40. However, the Panthers answered with an 8-1 run to lead 48-46.
New Heights earned one more lead change in the last few minutes of the tertiary period. This time, the Bronx-based team went ahead by three points, 51-48.
Panthers' Wesley Myers (Boys & Girls (N.Y.) '13) tied the matchup at 51, while teammate Antwoine Anderson (Bishop Kearney (N.Y.) '13) aided his team in an 8-2 surge to close the quarter. In fact, capping the run, the completion of a conventional three-point play after earning the and-1 on a clutch, toughness bucket by Anderson lifted the Panthers by six points, 59-53.
Back-to-back baskets by Marshall in the fourth quarter pushed the Panthers to a 64-56 advantage. However, New Heights whittled the deficit to four points, 64-60, on a bucket by Wagner-commit Greg Senat (Marianapolis Prep (Conn.) '13).
With 3:57 remaining, the Panthers led New Heights with a 70-63 advantage. New Heights looked like it was on its way to a late comeback as it went on to score four unanswered points. At about the 1:29 mark of the final phase, a 1-of-2 performance at the stripe by Senat gave way to it being a four-point game, 75-71.
That would be the closest New Heights would get as the Panthers, behind 3-of-4 shooting from the line, would seal the game down the stretch.
Panthers' Marshall finished with a team-high 18 points, while teammates Anderson and Charles netted 16 and 14 points, respectively. New Heights' Senat scored 15 points in the loss, while teammate Rhode Island-bound Hassan Martin (Curtis High School (N.Y.) '13) recorded 13 points.